As I was reading the Lectionary texts for this week I was struck by the Old Testament lesson. Exodus 32 begins with the story of the golden calf, where the people of God give up and turn to an idol. What struck me was how demoralizing that story is. I even wrote it down, “The story of the golden calf is one of the most demoralizing in scripture.” I realize that my current circumstances made it somewhat easier to see the downside of a story like this but I think I can stand by that assessment.
So what to do when we are demoralized, by a Scriptural story or our own lives? There are a lot of things you can do and what I recommend in these sermons is a careful reading of Philippians 4:4-9. It needs to be careful because if you aren’t careful you will come away from this passage, especially the first few verses with the sense that Paul wants you to “put on a happy face” to fix things when nothing could be further from the truth. Paul is no more advocating denial as a way of life than any competent health care professional would. We are not called to “rejoice” in the face of everything by first ignoring the realities of life; rejoicing comes from a deep understanding of God and our place in the world, even a fallen world.
Sometimes we rejoice in our circumstances and sometimes we rejoice in spite of our circumstances.
Knox Presbyterian Is rejoicing that easy? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”) I apologize in advance for the change in quality that you will notice part way through this recording. The furnace came on, as it often does, with its attendant hum and I am insufficiently subtle in my audio editing to be able to address part of a recording properly
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Is rejoicing that easy? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
PS I would like to point out that my two and half years old grandson recognized my doodle as a cow! A proud moment for this resolutely unartistic visual “artist” 🙂